“The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving from objects seen or heard about is non-attachment.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Drstanusravika Visaya Vitrasnasya Vasikara Samjna Vairagyam

Drsta: seen, experienced | Anusravika: heard | Visaya: object | Vitrsnasya: of him who is free from cravings | Vasikara: mastery | Samjna: consciousness, clear knowledge | Vairagyam: non-attachment

“Meditation is possible only when the mind is free from attachment. In fact, you need not even practice meditation if your mind is completely free from all selfish desire. You will see that you are always at ease; you will never become restless and never dissapointed…you need the practice and the non-attachment; and, of these two, the non-attachment is the more important.”

-Sri Swami Satchidananda

Desire, which, for some reason, is often confused with lust, greed, and other compulsions that are sustained by uncontrolled unconscious drive, is a natural part of life on the physical plane of existence and is what keeps our species alive, moving forward, and evolving.

When pure/uncontaminated by attachments for selfish/ego-satisfying purposes, desire, for example, the desire for knowledge, or freedom, or peace, or fairness for all, can be a beautiful thing when it is paired with personal non-attachment and comes with a foundation of discernment and self-control that works with, as opposed to against, a higher/greater/common good.

When desires are led by egoic/selfish aims and the urge for them is controlling a person instead of that person simply responding to, or not responding to, their desires from a place of choice/awareness, however, then this lost control/corruption of the mind and senses, causing a person to become blind to anything other than the satisfaction of their fleeting/false “needs,” will create a situation where that individual is perpetually trapped in a cycle of suffering that will inevitably create suffering for others in his/her reckless pursuit of what he/she craves/lusts after at any cost. This bondage/attachment to fantasies and cravings (as opposed to resting in the fulfillment of what is) is what makes advancement on the path to enlightenment/Liberation impossible for those who are physically, mentally, and energetically bound to objects, conditions, and experiences in the world.

When everything that a person thinks about, does, and maybe even speaks of, is based on uncontrollable urges/compulsions to attain what he/she is unconsciously drawn to at any cost as opposed to a controlled/fully aware power over him/herself and/or their urges and choices to pursue what is “good,” or “right” (regardless of personal interest) he/she can never be at peace. Instead, this clinging person will be in a state of constant grasping for fleeting experiences of pleasure tied to the fulfillment of external objects led by feelings of lack and depravity as opposed to peacefully receiving, and continually enjoying, the blissful pleasure of simply being alive and effortlessly receiving the fulfilling grace that comes from the natural process of being content with what is and expanding into more (being that he/she is already eternally fulfilled/all that there is).

Instead of letting desires come and go, those who are controlled by their urges, and do not fully know who/what they Truly are, due to feelings of not being/having enough, will, instead of allowing the power of all that is to effortlessly create/manifest experiences, resources, and so forth through/for them for growth and positive movement forward, attempt to exert their ego-will/force to get things done based on what they think (in their limited mind) will fulfill their wants to “be somebody” or have some thing in the world.

Freedom In Non-Attachment To Desires

In order to achieve peace in the constantly-unfolding present moment so that you can eventually attain enlightenment/Liberation, however, you need to be free from desires (and all other thoughts/types of thoughts for that matter at some point), which is practically impossible for someone with deep attachments to compulsions and associated objects.

To reach enlightenment, one has to be free from desires in the sense that he/she is not dependently clinging to desires and their manifestation for a sense of fulfillment, worth, or identity, even though absolute renunciation of desire itself is not required for this freedom to be achieved (since desires are not the problem, the uncontrolled, confused, and clinging body-mind is what binds any person to objects/illusions in the world).

The goal of Yoga, all eight (or your chosen number of) limbs, is to gain control of your mind, body, and senses so that your state of consciousness will rise to one that will allow connection with your divine/highest Self-expression, which is already whole/fulfilled. This means you must let go of all false attachments, which includes all objects tied to creating/maintaining a false sense-of-self in the world–that keeps you bound to object in the world–which your ego needs to exist. In other words, you need to “starve” your ego so that you can see/recognize that you, who are not your ego, body, or mind, exists and come fully into an awareness of who/what you are from there.

In order to achieve this goal, you have to be fully focused, and devoted, to Self purity, with your mind singularly fixed on your practice, without any attachment to even the projected expectation of what will be the outcome of your practice in general, since only your ego-mind will fantasize about (to determine if the projected “gains” of enlightenment itself is personally “worth it,” etc), and, therefore, limit what you think you are moving toward/coming into.

If you have ever lost your physical appetite, but still had a desire to live, so you ate food to keep yourself alive by nourishing your body while being unconcerned about, or unattached to, the fact that you can still taste and smell that what you are eating is delicious, or, if you have ever served others without expecting anything in return simply in order to nourish your spirit while being aware of the multiple benefits of your sacrifice, but being unconcerned about them, you will know that desire can be present, pure, and singularly-focused on supporting a positive cause without a person being attached to expectations that would prime them for suffering/attachment to a false0sense-of self.

Your devotion to your self-realization should be approached from this place of pure, unattached, desire. This most Selfish act, for example, the task of being the best that you can be in your lifetime so that you can be in service to the divinity of your and all of creation, by extension of it’s purity, is a selfless service to yourself and to all of creation. When desires are pure, so are the resulting karmas (thoughts, words, and actions that have a cause and effect in all of existence), and so are the ultimate end results.

But before you can pursue your desires purely without attachment, you will have to learn to gain control of your mind so that you can become present, aware, and a masterful observer of your desires and ego as opposed to being seduced by, and over-identifying with, them. This control will then gift you with discernment to know whether the pursuit of any given desire will lead to positive or negative outcomes in your life, or in the lives of others, and a “lack of appetite” for anything that is not your connection to your highest expression, which will lead to more happiness and peace for everyone involved, and the natural disentanglement from karmic bondage in general.

It is plain to see that desires motivate actions and are not inherently bad. But,

"The mind should not just go and grasp as it wants." -Sri Swami Satchidananda

If you have ever observed your desires neutrally, the feeling of desire itself, and how it attaches itself to, or propels itself toward, the objects/subjects of your desire, you will see how beautiful the desire itself, stripped down naked to its purest form, truly is. You will notice the urge rising from your belly (or anywhere else that it may originate from within you) and you will feel and know how it animates your entire being into either a feeling or thought, or into words, or even into action. If unseduced by these desires, meaning that you are aware of them and appreciate their presence and fulfillment in your life using common sense (Pratyaharas and Dharanas), morals, and decency (Yamas and Niyamas), you will enjoy their presence within your body and being more fully, and relish in the gratification that comes from manifesting and fulfilling the ones that you will know are right to follow.

With unawareness and attachment to desires, however, the mind can create obsessions, perversions, delusions, and get stuck in suffering for the objects and subjects of any given desire/urge. People who kill for, or ruin their lives or other people’s lives for, the fulfillment of their lusts/greed are good examples of distorted relationships with desires.

Freedom requires no bondage (unless one is consciously choosing this for themselves), and non-attachment requires understanding and diligent observation of one’s mind, being, and “self.” When desire is present without attachment, what one finds is that one becomes free. Desire can come and go, but you are always present, observing it as an object, not overidentifying with it as a part of who you are, and needing to pursue every whim to maintain your face/self.

There is very little that is needed for a person, stripped to the essentials, to be happy when they are unattached in this world. When unattached to desires, happiness is a given, and then choices can be made, or not made, on purpose from that place in order to make one’s life experience truly spectacular, not by effort, but by default. When one’s ego is not getting in the way, and one is not attached to worldly things and is simply focused on his/her expression or on his/her service to their spirit, a cause, etc, he/she will have all of their desires fulfilled by the virtue of their state of being (just being is enough), and everything else that comes into his/her life and brings pleasure will just be an added “something” that simply adds “flavor” to the enjoyment of life.

This week, I urge you to pay attention to your desires:

  • Where are they coming from and what/whom may they be attached/chained to?
  • Can you simply be with the feeling/sensation/experience of desire without acting on it?
  • If you find the place, within you, of simply being with your desire: what does this place show you about the object/subject of your desire and how it relates to any given aspect of your well-being, ego, identity, and so forth?
  • Where is the desire in your body, and what does it do to your mind? Can you look neutrally at a desire and hear what it is really telling you?
  • With understanding, will you choose to fulfill a given desire or simply let it go?
  • Or, did you discover that the desire that you thought you had for something was far different from what you expected it to be when you really looked at it from a neutral place?
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